Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Lime Crime Venus 3

Weeks after releasing the Venus XL, Lime Crime has released yet another version of the Venus palette, Venus 3. 

And I won't be buying. 

I was tagged by many people letting me know about this palette, and I wanted to thank everyone who did. It's always helpful for me to know the products that you all are most interested to hear about, and I appreciate the engagement around the ideas of the anti-haul and smart shopping. 

Despite everything that I know about Lime Crime (I won't be getting into their past in this post, but if you're interested, I detailed that information in this post), I still can't help but be excited and interested when they announce a new shadow palette. That's not to say I can't wait to buy these new products, but I'm excited to just see them. And that's because the Venus and Venus 2 palettes were years "ahead of their time" or ahead of trends. 

Venus was an entire palette of warm pink and red tones years before Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance entered the scene. Likewise, Venus 2 debuted long before ABH Subculture. Neutrals were still the focus of most palette releases when the Venus palettes came along, and I remember thinking they were too "out there" for me. Now, shadows from Venus are some of the powerhouse shades in my favorite custom palette, and I have fallen hard for the mustard tones that first appeared in Venus 2. 

Lime Crime is certainly not without an unfavorable history, but they have traditionally been the indie brand to watch in terms of innovative color stories and new trends. (Lime Crime Cashmere certainly put the "greige" lip color on trend.) And I guess that's why Venus 3 leaves me really disappointed. 

You see, unlike so many of Lime Crime's earlier palettes, we have definitely seen color schemes like this before. 

Let's look at the palette:

We've got a palette full of purple, pink, and taupe tones. Now, that's not incredibly surprising since the Pantone Color of the Year is Ultra Violet, and I expect that we will see many purple-toned palettes in the coming months. But it's also not like we haven't seen purple-toned palettes before. 

When I first saw Venus 3, I immediately thought, Oh, this is Viseart Amethyst Theory:

This palette released about a year ago, so it's curious to me that Lime Crime would come out with this palette at least a year late to the game. When this palette launched, many people raved about there finally being a purple palette, but, really, there's only two purple shades in it. And there's really only two purple shades in Venus 3 as well. 

Let's look at swatches:

Looking at these swatches, there's:
  • A matte cool pink
  • A shimmery pink
  • A shimmery pink champagne
  • A shimmery white-pink
  • A matte cool brown
  • A matte fuchsia/purple
  • A matte warm pink
  • A shimmery taupe

It's interesting because Beam (second shadow on the top row) looks like a shimmery violet in the pan, but in the swatch it looks like a shimmery pink. And that was one of two shadows that looked somewhat purple. So now, this "purple" palette that only had two purple shades only really has one, and it's fuchsia at that. 

Truthfully, Venus 3 is not ahead of trends, it's not unique or interesting, and it is not something that we haven't seen before. It's a collection of pink shadows that look more interesting in the pan than they do in performance. Added to that, it doesn't appear to be a very versatile palette. There are four shimmery shadows, but I would guess that they don't look too distinct from each other when applied to the lid. And that's half the palette. You can make a pink look, violet look, and taupe look. Other than that, the colors are very monochromatic, which doesn't usually allow for multiple options. 

In addition to Viseart Amethyst Theory, Venus 3 looks like Huda Beauty Desert Dusk:

Natasha Denona Lila:

Kylie Cosmetics Purple Palette:

Colourpop Element of Surprise:

Zoeva Love is a Story:

Dose of Colors Marvelous Mauves:

And Coloured Raine Queen of Hearts:

These are all palettes that have been available for some time, and while they all don't have the exact color scheme as Venus 3, they certainly embrace the idea of neutral shadows with a couple pops of fuchsia or purple. 

I'd like to take a moment to talk about the marketing of this palette. This is something that I talked about a lot in the early posts on this blog, but it bears repeating. These were the "first images" Lime Crime released of Venus 3:

I cannot tell you how frustrating I personally find this kind of marketing campaign. All these pictures are saying is:

Look, we have a new palette! We are going to tell you absolutely nothing about it, other than the fact that it exists and will be released at some point in time, but we fully expect you to be excited by this! Look, it's a picture of nothing! Get excited!

I understand that brands need to market their products, but they are looking out for their own best interest. As consumers, we should be looking out for our own as well. Many brands are guilty of this particular marketing tactic, where they try to drum up hype and excitement just on the idea of a new product. And just the idea of something can be incredibly powerful. 

We saw this most clearly in the Too Faced Sweet Peach palette release. Too Faced released the name of the palette, Sweet Peach, and images of the packaging. And that was all that consumers needed to fill in the gaps for themselves. It was going to be a peach palette! There were going to be so many different shades of peach! Then people made the decision—without even seeing the palette—that they were going to buy it. When the palette was finally shown, people were incredibly disappointed. Where's the peach?! Still, they had already made the decision to buy, and it was difficult to change that mindset because they also had fear of missing out. Too Faced intentionally released low stock, the palette sold out immediately, and then it became a frenzy of people trying to buy this palette they didn't even like. 

It was a complete disaster from a consumer standpoint, but it was an incredibly effective marketing tactic. Soon after this, Too Faced was able to sell the company for over $1 billion, which was a culmination of expert marketing tactics over a few years and several key product releases. Other brands took notice, and this is now an almost universal marketing tactic. 

This brings me back to my earlier point that Venus palettes in the past have been exciting because they brought something new to the table. But this marketing tactic, which is just like so many others, puts Lime Crime squarely in the space of "following" the trends rather than setting them. They were banking on the assumption that consumers would see this nothing image, see that it was an eyeshadow palette in the same packaging as the Venus palettes, and make the decision to buy based on the previous two Venus palettes. The tactic is based on riding the coattails of their previous, successful palettes. 

The reason I bring all of this up is that it's important as a consumer to recognize this tactic and not buy into it. If you saw Venus 3 and felt it was incredibly exciting and just the palette you were looking to add to your collection, that's great. But if you saw the nothing marketing images and felt the impulse to buy without even knowing what it looked like, that might be something to keep in mind before your purchase. As consumers, we should be buying products because they excite and inspire us, or even better, if they fulfill a purpose. 

Personally, I have never considered myself to be a "makeup collector," and I like for everything in my collection to have a place and purpose. I am not passing judgement on people who do collect makeup because everyone is different. But for me, buying the Venus 3 palette "because I want to have the entire Venus collection" is not a good enough reason to spend upwards of $40 on eyeshadows I already own.  

If you're interested in this color scheme, I would recommend taking a look at Coloured Raine Queen of Hearts instead. Queen of Hearts is a more inclusive palette, and it can create a multitude of looks. I own Queen of Hearts, in addition to a slew of other palettes and single shadows, so there is absolutely no reason for me to buy Venus 3. I was disappointed to see that Lime Crime didn't bring anything new or innovative to the table with this product, and I'm not personally too excited to see a collection of colors that I've seen done again and again in the past year. 

There's nothing drawing me to the Venus 3 palette, and there is not a single shade in it that I don't already own a few times over. I don't need this palette, so I won't be buying. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

What I'm not Buying: KKW Beauty X Mario Palette

Following in the footsteps of her younger sister, Kim Kardasian started her own makeup brand, and she recently teamed up with her makeup artist to produce a neutral eyeshadow palette with a blue shadow. 

And I won't be buying. 

I'm sorry that I have been absent on the blog for a while. I've been incredibly busy with several projects (including for the blog), and, frankly, there weren't many new items released that were too hyped or that I personally felt excited about. 

And then I learned of the KKW Beauty X Mario Palette. 

Now, there are two very big reasons that this is a hyped palette that sold out very fast:
  1. It has Kim Kardashian's name on it
  2. It has Mario Dedivanovic's name on it. 

That's it. 

If you don't know, Mario Dedivanovic is Kim Kardashian's longtime makeup artist, and a few years ago, he collaborated with Anastasia Beverly Hills on the Master Palette by Mario. KKW Beauty claims that with this palette, you will be able to create any of Kim Kardashian's makeup looks. Naturally, young Kim Kardashian fans are probably very interested in this palette because they want to look like Kim and now think they actually can as long as they buy this collection of incredibly neutral shadows. 

So, I'm just going to say it: there is absolutely nothing special about this palette, except for the fact that it has those two names attached to it. 

Let's look at it:

This is, without question, one of the most boring palettes I have seen in a long time. It is a collection of beiges and brows with a blue and a color that can lean berry or brown. If you remove those two shadows, you've got a very basic beginner's palette. 

Let's break down each shade. There is:
  • A shimmery white
  • A matte cream
  • A shimmery champagne
  • A matte terracotta 
  • A matte warm brown
  • A shimmery berry
  • A shimmery white gold
  • A shimmery blue
  • A matte deep brown
  • A shimmery yellow gold/bronze

Let's look at the colors as pigments:

And as single shadows:

I would encourage everyone to look at these shadows and ask yourself if you would buy each one individually as a single. If you wouldn't because you know you already have those shadows already, you absolutely don't need to buy the entire palette. And if you wouldn't because some of the shadows just aren't all that interesting to you, then you don't need to buy the entire palette. 

When I think about these shadows in relation to what is in my own collection, I would not buy any of them. Not even one. Because I have every single one of these shadows at least five times over, if not more. And if I owned absolutely zero eyeshadow, I still would only buy:
  • The matte cream
  • The shimmery gold
  • The matte warm brown
  • The matte terracotta
  • The shimmery bronze

That's it. 

And for $45, plus tax and shipping, I would want more than just five shadows that are pretty ordinary and I could get for cheaper elsewhere. 

What's (semi)interesting is that this palette reminds me a lot of the ABH Master Palette by Mario:

Of course that's not exceptionally surprising since both palettes were made by Mario Dedivanovic, but I also find it odd that he would choose to create a palette so similar to his last one.

The Master Palette by Mario was (and still is) an incredibly hyped palette, and people talk about it like it was this incredibly special, one-of-a-kind, "one that got away" palette. And I just frankly don't understand why. Like the KKW Beauty palette, it is just a collection of browns with a green and a blue. 

Those same people who lament "missing out" on the Master Palette by Mario have said that they will buy the KKW Beauty palette no matter what so that they don't miss out again. But, really, there's little point in buying something just to make up for the fact that you "missed out" on the item that you actually wanted. And buying the KKW Beauty palette is not going to give you the Master Palette by Mario. The palettes are similar, but it won't fully satisfy your desire to own the exact product that you didn't buy. You can, however, take comfort and solace in the fact that you didn't buy the ABH palette for a reason, and that reason is most likely still valid. The Master Palette by Mario isn't that special, so if you didn't buy it, chances are you didn't need it. 

This palette also reminds me of the Kylie Cosmetics Peach palette:

And Zoeva Cocoa Blend:

And basically every other neutral palette available. 

For slightly more interesting color schemes that are also inclusive, there's Juvia's Place Nubian 2:

And Coloured Raine Cheers to the Beauty:

I'll be blunt. For $45, the KKW X Mario Palette is absolutely not worth the money. You are paying for the names attached to this palette and nothing else. And I can absolutely guarantee that you can find comparable quality from much more affordable brands. Even so, like I said earlier, if you have any eyeshadow at all, you likely already have most, if not all, of the colors in this palette. And at that point, you are just spending $45 to give money to Kim Kardashian to have her name on a piece of cardboard. 

This palette is also not very inclusive. It looks like it was made for people with light to medium skin tones and not much deeper. And I'm sure a lot of people can make excuses for the lack of inclusivity. 

It's Mario's palette; these are the colors he wants. It's the colors Kim Kardashian actually wears. They can do whatever they want. 

But here's the thing: that's not acceptable anymore. It never should have been acceptable, and it's important to only more forward and be better. Coming out with a palette like this, that is half light neutrals, is not helpful. And when you look at Juvia's Place Nubian 2 and Coloured Raine Cheers to the Beauty, it's very evident how easy it is to work with a similar color scheme but make the product inclusive. 

This palette is also another example of the false scarcity tactic, which is something that always sours me to a product and a brand. The palette is currently sold out, which means that the people who passed on the initial launch may now be thinking that the product is clearly so great and that they need to buy it the next time it restocks. But this is simply a marketing tactic to drum up this exact reaction and hype. The reality is that even if the product was poor quality, it was going to sell because of the two names attached to it. Everyone involved would have known this, and they would have known an appropriate amount of palettes to manufacture to meet the demand. Instead, they released a small quantity to ensure that it would sell out and would then pressure more people into buying it. 

This exact marketing tactic is what made Kylie Cosmetics so successful, despite the fact that her lip kits were Colourpop products that were only repackaged and triple the price. Of course, these aren't the only brands that employ this tactic—it's something that almost every brand does. They feed off of consumers succumbing to hype, simply because they don't want to feel like they are missing out on some great product that "everyone else" has. 

But the truth is that when you wear this palette, no one is going to know that it was from Kim Kardashian. If you were to wear the same colors from Wet N Wild, no one would know the difference. These are basic neutrals, and you can absolutely create the same looks from shadows outside the KKW Beauty palette. 

There is just nothing interesting or exciting about this palette. It adds absolutely nothing to the makeup conversation in terms of innovation, inspiration, or creativity. If this came out maybe seven years ago when I was first interested in makeup, I could see this being a product that would have intrigued me. But even so, I would have preferred to buy something from a store so that I could have seen and tested it in person. The only "benefit" to buying this palette is having something with a celebrity's name. But that's a fleeting feeling of satisfaction, and as I said, no one except you will ever know. There is just nothing about this palette that I need or want, so I won't be buying. 

Monday, March 12, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Tarte Be a Mermaid and Make Waves Eyeshadow Palette

Coming off the heels of the Shape Tape Foundation backlash, Tarte has released a new eyeshadow palette that is not inclusive and looks exactly like every other eyeshadow palette they have ever released. This version of it, in clamshell packaging, is called Be a Mermaid and Make Waves. 

And I won't be buying. 

Before I get into why I won't be buying this ridiculous palette, I just wanted to share briefly why there hasn't been too much activity on the blog recently. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently made a cross-country move, and I am still settling in and dealing with newness growing pains. Added to that, I have been experiencing some health issues related to the surgeries I had last year, so I've been focusing on my health. 

Thank you to those who continue to tag me in posts of new products, including the person who tagged me in a post about Be a Mermaid and Make Waves, which might be the most unnecessary name for a platte I have seen. 

So, let's talk about Tarte. 

Tarte is a brand that seems to look at everything that Too Faced does, sees that as successful, and emulates it. 
  • Too Faced made their palettes smell like chocolate; Tarte made their palettes smell like vanilla
  • Too Faced serialized their Chocolate Bar palettes; Tarte serialized their Tartelette palettes
  • Too Faced made gimmicky packaging and product names; Tarte made gimmicky packaging and product names
  • Too Faced focused on mermaids and unicorns; Tarte focused on mermaids and unicorns
  • Too Faced caters to white people; Tarte caters to white people 

And Be a Mermaid and Make Waves is no different. 

First, let's talk about the elephant in the room, the clamshell:

This is the outer packaging of this palette, which seems to be a faux leather or vinyl multi-color clamshell. Now, if I'm being totally honest, when I was a very young child (we're talking under 11 or so), I would have begged and begged for a compact that looked exactly like this. Not an eyeshadow palette, but a compact. And that's because I would have loved it for when I was playing pretend that I was Ariel from The Little Mermaid

This would have made an amazing toy for me as a child. As an adult woman, and for $42 plus tax, this is not something that calls to me as being practical or something that has any kind of longevity. 

Let's look at the inside:

The eyeshadows are shaped like pieces of coral, maybe? Or kind of like a mermaid tail? A little? I'm not totally sure what the idea is behind the shape (please let me know if you know), but I can tell you that the way these pans are shaped indicates that Tarte is not expecting people to use up entire shadows. 

I get that Tarte is trying to have an interesting-looking palette that people will want to buy for the novelty of it, but it is common knowledge that the easiest pan shapes to functionally use are circles and squares. If you've ever watched videos of people who use up entire eyeshadow palettes, you'll know that when the pans are oddly shaped (like this), it makes it challenging to use. 

At first glance, the color scheme of this palette is pretty. The colors look nice together. But when you look at it again, and really look at it, you'll see that there are a ton of duplicate colors in it. There are four reds, five pinks, two golds, a blue, a green, and a purple. So in your 14-shaodw palette, there are really only six distinct colors, making more than half the palette repetitive. 

Let's look at the colors away from the packaging and design as just pigments:

When I look at this picture, I see one potentially interesting shade, and it's in the second column, the third shadow down. That reminds me a bit of the way Colourpop Glass Bull looks as just a pigment, and that shadow has quickly become a favorite of mine. But otherwise, these colors all look more of the same to me and like something I have several times over. 

Let's look at swatches:

So, this is the picture that literally made me laugh out loud. I've mentioned this before, but swatch pictures are supposed to make a consumer enticed to buy something. Swatches are so crucial, in fact, that most brands will alter the images to make them look that much more impressive. But when I saw this picture, any positive feeling I might have had about this palette completely vanished. 

I encourage everyone to look at this picture and then cover up the first two or three shadows on the models' arms. when you do, you'll see a whole bunch of bland and repetitive shades. The top three colors are easily the most interesting in this entire palette, and what's great is if you are drawn to those shades, you can get them as singles from brands like Coloured Raine, Makeup Geek, or Colorpop that will be great quality and reasonably priced. 

This color scheme has a lot of problems, the most basic of which is that it is boring. It's basically ABH Modern Renaissance if Modern Renaissance was less pigmented and had three pops of color. The next problem is that the quality looks poor, especially since this is the brand's PR swatch image. The colors don't look very pigmented, and especially on the lightest skin tone (where the colors were not applied as heavily to make them show up), you can see that the colors are patchy. 

This is also evident in the PR images of models wearing the shadows:

The colors look sheer and ashy on both models instead of richly pigmented and foiled like they do in the pan and (somewhat) in the swatches. 

And finally, the biggest problem with this palette is that it is not inclusive whatsoever. Like almost everything that Tarte releases, this palette was only made with light skin tones in mind. And while that is absolutely not surprising at this point, it is nevertheless continually disappointing. It is also not surprising whatsoever that Tarte applied the few colorful shades onto the model with deep skin. That's because the rest of the shades in the palette would have not worked or shown up on her skin. 

With the disaster that was the Shape Tape Foundation release (you can read my anti-haul on that here), you would think that Tarte would have halted or aborted the release of this palette since it is so obviously not inclusive. To release this kind of a palette at a time when people are demanding better tells consumers that inclusivity absolutely is not a priority of the company. 

And what's worse still is that Be a Mermaid and Make Waves looks like almost every other palette Tarte has released. At this point in an anti-haul post, I typically show other palettes that share the same or similar color scheme. But for Be a Mermaid and Make Waves, I'm going to compare it ONLY against other Tarte palettes. 

There's Make Believe in Yourself:

Rainforest of the Sea Volume III:

Dream Big:

Swamp Queen:

Tarteist Pro:

Tartelette in Bloom:

Tartelette Tease:

And Tartelette Flirt:

So not only is Tarte selling a boring, poor quality, non-inclusive palette, but they are also selling a palette that they have sold to you many, many times before. Be a Mermaid and Make Waves might as well be Make Believe in Yourself. They just traded a gold-green and purple for a yellow gold and several duplicate shades. And again, when you take out those three pops of color, it just becomes every other palette listed above. 

Without doubt, Tarte has to be the biggest brand right now that is the least interested in providing interesting, unique, and inclusive products. Instead they are trying to compete for Too Faced's target audience, which is white teens and white young women. 

And I suppose that is perhaps why this palette, especially, is a disappointing release. Tarte has quite a few products that have positive or uplifting names: Dream Big, Make Believe in Yourself, Be a Mermaid and Make Waves. These are important messages to give a younger demographic, especially young women, compared to Too Faced's names like "Better Than Sex" and "Glow Job." But that message is completely ruined when you exclude everyone other than the privileged. 

To end this post, I just want to share a story of something that happened during a recent Sephora trip in Los Angeles. A young woman of color who was disabled was shopping with her mother. The two were trying to find makeup that would work for the young woman, and, frustrated, she finally blurted to her mother, "I know nothing is going to look good on me because my skin is ugly." 

I was shopping near them, and that comment completely stopped me in my tracks. The mother did not dispute the comment, only agreed that there were not going to be options that worked for her. 

People who have the privilege of choice know that others do not have options. But that thought is pushed to the back of their minds because they know that they will have an option. And they think that if there is one option that works for someone else, while there are 50 options that work for them, that it is enough. And since they don't know what it is like to be without options or to be degraded based on skin color on a daily basis, they don't have empathy or see the desperate need for immediate change. 

I don't know what it is like to be without options. And hearing that small conversation between mother and daughter genuinely made me so upset that I had to leave the store. This is why brands like Fenty Beauty are crucial—brands that are created and owned by women of color, have a wide range of inclusive products, and are available in store for people to try. And why brands like Tarte are part of the problem, not the solution. 

Be a Mermaid and Make Waves is a bad release. It is a gimmicky product that is so transparently a lazy money grab created from existing Tarte palettes that is more about packaging than it is about quality or inclusivity. The brutal truth is that it is not hard to be inclusive. And at this point, brands that are not inclusive are not out of choice. There is literally nothing that I like about Be a Mermaid and Make Waves or Tarte, so I won't be buying. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

What I'm Not Buying: Lime Crime Venus XL

Lime Crime has released their latest palette, which is an extra large version of their popular Venus palette, aptly named Venus XL. 

And I won't be buying. 

I have never received so many requests to write an anti-haul post, and I'm sorry it has taken me a while to get to it. However, it was thrilling to receive so many requests, and I just want to thank everyone who either messaged me, commented, or tagged me in a post on Instagram. 

Part of the reason that it took me so long to write this post is that when I first saw the Venus XL, I really, really wanted to purchase it. And I wanted to make sure that I was confident in my decision not to before writing this post. The original Venus palette has been a favorite of mine (though it has since been depotted), and the expansion of the XL palette is really gorgeous. 

Lime Crime has definitely been one of the most controversial brands in recent years (we will get into that more later), but they produce some of the most beautiful makeup items. And Venus XL is no exception. 

I knew I shouldn't buy this palette, that I had all of these colors already, but I was still tempted by it. And despite everything that I have learned and that I have written about in this blog, I still felt pulled in by the color scheme. But then I faced reality. Yes, this is a gorgeous palette. But I truly have all of these colors already. 

Let's look at the original Venus palette:

And Venus XL:

What's nice about this palette is that there aren't any repeat shades from the original Venus palette. So if you already own Venus, there won't be any overlap. But with that said, I think there are several shades in Venus that absolutely should be in this palette, especially since this is a "Venus XL" palette. Most specially, I think "Venus", "Rebirth," and "Muse" should have been included. There are certainly shades that are comparable in Venus XL, but I think it's really lacking those deep red shades and a bright coral. 

The most obvious palettes in my collection that dupe this color scheme are my duped/edited Desert Dusk palette:

And my duped Just Peachy Mattes palette:

Between these two palettes, I have every single shadow in Venus XL duped. And this is obviously why I was so drawn to it—it's clearly a color scheme that I love. These two palettes are arguably my top favorites in my entire collection, and it would be so pointless for me to buy another palette just to have all these colors again. 

Let's look at swatches:

It's funny because swatches are supposed to help sell a palette, but I've recently found that they do the opposite for me. When I see pictures of the palette and see the colors organized in a certain way, I feel so drawn to it. But when I see swatches, I feel like I am brought back into reality. Because these are all very basic colors. In fact, I would say that my two palettes above easily have more unique colors than this palette. 

Added to that, there are so many colors in here that look incredibly similar. My guess is that "Passion", "Aphrodite", "Nu Classic", "Celestial", "Triumph", and "Supreme" would all look very similar once applied onto the eye. Same with "Eden", "Inspire", and "Goddess." 

And when you look at it that way, it seems there are only 10 unique colors in Venus XL: dark pink, bronze, berry, mauve, hot pink, brown, orange, light pink, cream, and dark brown/plum. Meaning, there are about eight shades in this palette that are repeats. And even then, there are three different shades of pink included in the "unique" shade count. 

There are countless palettes that look like Venus XL, including, Jeffrey Star Blood Sugar:

Huda Beauty Rose Gold:

Huda Beauty Mauve Obsessions:

Coloured Raine Queen of Hearts:

Violet Voss Hashtag:

Violet Voss Holy Grail:

Natasha Denona Lila:

And Colourpop She:

My guess is that due to the success of palettes like Huda Beauty Desert Dusk:

And, of course ABH Modern Renaissance:

Lime Crime wanted to be included in the conversation again. I've said this previously, but before Modern Renaissance was released, Venus was a huge hit and was sold out for long stretches of time. However, Lime Crime has not been included in the conversation in a while, and while some of that had to do with Lime Crime being a slightly lesser known indie brand, it was largely because they had a huge string of controversies, and big influencers publicly boycotted them. 

And so when everyone was praising Modern Renaissance for having this really unique color scheme, people weren't really hearing about Venus, which came first and has a similar color scheme without all the boring (in my opinion) neutral shades. 

It's common knowledge that when one brand has a huge success with a new product that is trending, most brands will scramble to come out with something in a similar color scheme. A few years ago, when the major palettes were Urban Decay Naked and Too Faced Chocolate Bar, having an orange shadow would have been "too bold" for a neutral palette. But after the success of Modern Renaissance (which has an orange shadow), Urban Decay came out with Naked Heat, Tarte came out with Tartelette Toasted, and we even have Colourpop Yes, Please!, which is a palette I can't see being popular only a few years ago. 

But I think Lime Crime is just too late to this trend, which is interesting because, in a way, they started it. When I first learned of the original Venus palette and heard it was popular and selling out, I looked at it and thought, Who would ever want to wear those colors?! I would constantly look like I have pink eye!

Little did I know that in a few years, those would be my "go-to" shades. 

But I kept looking at Venus and wanted to know why it was so popular. And eventually, I wanted it too. Even after I had it, I didn't know what to do with it. I was so used to only wearing light neutral shadows (I even remember when I started wearing gold and thinking I was so bold!) that the colors in Venus were so intimidating. But now, those colors have been trending for a while, and I don't think Lime Crime could just say, "Hey, remember us and our Venus palette that's several years old?" Instead, they came out with a new one that was only different because it was bigger, repeating shades several times over. 

I think a lot of this has to do with Lime Crime trying to come back from controversy. It's worth investigating if you don't know the story (I recommend this Racked article), but Lime Crime founder Doe Deere has had a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding her, and everything culminated in a 2015 data breach that compromised thousands of consumers' personal and financial information. 

Doe Deere also started attacking consumers on social media and in private messages, including this well-known message sent to a customer:

Following this, the boycotts began, and eventually, Doe Deere stepped away from being the public face of the company (though she is still the CEO). To my knowledge (I could be wrong), Lime Crime hasn't had any recent controversies, but they are certainly one of those brands who you need to make a personal decision regarding if you want to support them or not. 

Personally, I have owned the Venus palette. It has since been depotted, and I only kept a few of the shades. My palette was purchased before I knew about all of the controversy surrounding the brand, and it was purchased from Urban Outfitter, which is an authorized retailer of Lime Crime makeup. With that said, I personally have difficulty buying from Lime Crime. 

Lime Crime has made a point to say that they have greatly improved their security since the 2015 breach, but, whenever shopping online, I aways recommend paying through PayPal or a similar service instead of directly entering credit card information. I do feel that the brand is moving in a generally more positive direction, especially since Doe Deere isn't directly in charge of social media and isn't personally attacking consumers, but I have to admit that is an incredibly low bar. 

I also know that it is nearly impossible to find any brand that doesn't have something ugly in its history. I'm not excusing that, just saying that it is a sad reality. And people need to make personal judgements on who they support and who they don't. 

It has been a few years since the height of Lime Crime's controversies, but I am still left with poor feelings toward the brand. 

Brining it back to the Venus XL palette, I feel largely the same way I felt about the Jeffree Star Blood Sugar palette. It's a color scheme that I am certainly drawn to, but it is also one that I already own. And at this point, you probably do too. I also feel like this palette will only be able to create a few distinct looks. And for $56 plus tax (shipping is free for orders over $50), I would want to create a variety of looks. 

Frankly, if you are willing to buy from Lime Crime, love this color scheme, and don't already own these colors, I would instead recommend buying the original Venus palette. It's $38, has all of these colors, and doesn't repeat any shade. You can also purchase Venus through a few third-party retailers if you don't want all of your money to go directly to Lime Crime. With that said, those retailers also have problematic histories, which brings me back to the point about almost every brand having something unsavory about them. 

Overall, I think the best option would be to buy a few singles from Make Up For Ever, Makeup Geek, or Colourpop, such as Come and Get It, 143, Making Moves, Stay Golden, Wait For It, and Slim Fit. 

In general, I found that I'm not too impressed with this release by Lime Crime. And I know I said that I wanted to purchase it when I first saw it, but when I think about Venus and Venus II, Venus XL feels uninspired and lazy. The Venus palettes were ABH Modern Renaissance and Subculture before those palettes even existed and the color schemes were made popular. I always felt Lime Crime was ahead of all the other makeup brands and trends, but now it seems they are trying to undo some of the damage caused by the 2015 boycott and are pandering to the makeup-obsessed who will continually buy what they already own. I have certainly fallen into that category in the past, but I am happy to say that I no longer feel that way. 

Venus XL doesn't bring anything new or different to my makeup collection, and if I had to choose between it and my duped/edited Desert Dusk palette, I would choose my palette any day. There are too many options available at a lower cost for me to spend upwards of $60 on this palette. I don't need it, and I'm not going to buy it.